The first mobile phone – but not too soon!

13 years old is the correct starting age for a child’s first mobile phone. This is the opinion of both parents and non-parents who recently took part in a survey by the US cellphone provider UScellular.

Usage trends, attitudes and habits of smartphone users of Generation Z and Millennials were queried.

Parents control children

Almost 90 percent of parents monitor their children’s phone usage, with app usage (85 percent) and time spent on the phone (68 percent) being the most commonly monitored areas. Consistent with usage monitoring, 74 percent of parents are likely to talk to their children about their app usage and safe web browsing.

More than half of the users surveyed state that the smartphone enriches their lives. 60 percent say they couldn’t take photos or videos without their cell phone, 58 percent fear losing contact with their families without the device. When asked what they couldn’t do without their cell phone, 32 percent say they wouldn’t be able to pay for things, 25 percent couldn’t get work or homework done, and 19 percent couldn’t cook or prepare meals.

31 percent are concerned about their financial data if they lose their smartphone because they rely on it for financial matters. 33 percent worry most about losing photos on their smartphone. 32 percent want to digitally fast and 28 percent wish they were less dependent on their phone. The fear of loss is high: Three out of four respondents would rather go to the dentist than lose their cell phone, and 68 percent would rather go on a terrible date, 65 percent would rather sit next to a crying baby on a plane, and 57 percent would forego all Christmas presents.

Gen Z for TikTok and Snapchat

Social media accounts for a large chunk of cell phone usage in every generation. Three out of four survey respondents say they spend at least an hour a day on social media—more time than any other individual activity. The most used social media app is Facebook, but this is due to high usage by older millennials. Generation Z in particular uses TikTok and Snapchat more than older generations.

A 2021 survey by CyberSafeKids found that 84 per cent of Irish children between the ages of eight and 12 use at least one social media or messaging service such as Snapchat or TikTok, although these are only allowed from the age of 13. And a study by the children’s rights organization National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in India shows that six out of ten children use their smartphones for instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

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More smartphone owners aged 13 and over

The report states: “It is also interesting that 30.2 percent of children of all ages (8 to 18 years) own their own smartphone.” Surprisingly, 37.8 percent of 10-year-olds would have a Facebook account and 24.3 percent of the same age group would have an Instagram account. From the age of 13, the number of children owning a smartphone increases sharply. It can be concluded from this that parents and other legal guardians are more likely to give children smartphones than laptops or tablets by the age of 13, they say.

Respondents are optimistic when it comes to 5G technology: Those who are using their first 5G cell phone are most likely to say that video streaming (48 percent), mobile app use (47 percent) and video calls (46 percent) with this phone are easier than with their previous ones. And 66 percent believe that further advances in mobile technology will lead to faster gaming and streaming. 64 percent believe that improving mobile technology will lead to better access to digital resources for education.